It was troubling for the U.S. Women’s National Team to endure three straight defeats ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Germany, but nobody — nobody — wants to go down in the history books as being This team losing four straight matches for the first time in USWNT history. Not to mention that this was the last USWNT game of the calendar year, and then the USWNT would head into a World Cup year with a loss. Ugh.
Thus, it’s no surprise that you can practically hear the collective exhale of the USA team after Sunday’s come-from-behind 2-1 win against a team. very well German team.
We’ll talk about Sunday’s comeback – and whether a win means we can stop worrying about the USWNT’s recent form – but first let’s start with the palpable panic caused by the three straight losses heading into Sunday. They lost 2-1 to No. 4-ranked England at Wembley in October, followed by a 2-0 loss days later to No. 8-ranked Spain (and a very depleted Spain team, mind you, the current battle between the top players and their federation), and then a loss. 2-1 against No. 3 ranked Germany in Florida on Thursday night.
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I won’t say I was panic-stricken (or that I wasn’t screaming at the TV during games I wasn’t calling for ESPN), but it got me thinking about the question we all must grapple with: Is it realistic for us to expect the USWNT To dominate the world stage to the degree that we have in the past given the global growth of women’s football?
The truth is, as I wrote about it recently, the world (and especially Europe) has improved a lot. Given this growth, should we expect the USWNT to win 24/7, 365 days a year? Do we expect a young team in transition to be in top form eight months before the World Cup, when half of this starting line-up has never played in a World Cup, and to play against three nations who have a legitimate chance of winning the next World Cup? ?
Although I the love Our high expectations for the USWNT seem very high given the impressive global improvement of women’s soccer. And for the guy or gal who just exclaimed that I’m getting flaccid with age (maybe), let me explain: We should absolutely expect this USWNT to be on top of the podiums at every major world championship given that the USA has more girls playing and more More money goes into women’s football than any other country in the world. But let’s not go nuclear every time this team in transition stumbles against the world’s top teams in friendlies.
Does it haunt me that the USWNT’s record is 2-5-1 in their last eight games against top ten teams? yes. But I’d rather play with the top teams in the world, even if it means losing in the short term, than play #47 seed Uzbekistan (my apologies to the Uzbek fans out there). So everyone, take a deep breath. Exhale.
And for one last point of view in this four-game segment against top-10 teams, the U.S. has not played four consecutive top-10 teams. in friendly matches Not everything has been in the house for more than a decade. It’s been a long time since the USWNT spilled over into Constant challenge like this. yes. I will live there.
Now, back to Sunday’s win in New Jersey: The thing that worried me, honestly, wasn’t the results, however method USWNT plays.
Right now, the Americans lack the resilience and creativity we’ve seen from all those other top teams that just beat them. And as we know, this American team has the ability to play creatively. In fact, I would argue this team has a bunch of some of the most creative players we’ve ever had who don the red, white and blue. However, the USWNT’s play often continues to get rushed, broken up, and lacks flow.
I give a lot of credit to Germany for the various ways they were able to put pressure on the American players, but there were still a lot of unforced errors made by the American players. There were plenty of malfunctions on Sunday when the game called for the American team to hold and protect the ball. The spacing between the lines was too wide, with Rose Lavelle running very high to help the USA gain possession of the ball.
We saw how effective the tactical shift in the second half was for the USWNT. Coach Vlatko Andonovsky had Lindsey Horan drop a little deeper to help on defense and also help build the offense – and that shift affected the game. (And yes, it also helped that Germany’s 20-year-old star midfielder, Lena Oberdorf, left the field with a shoulder injury.)
But against the top teams, how often do we see this American team patiently put together 9-10-11 assists and then that Boom: Explode in the seam that opened because of this possession and accumulation? Not often.
Plenty of USWNT offense relies on Mal Pugh or Sophia Smith working their quick magic of transitional moments and high pressure to beat defenders. It’s great to have in the USA toolbox, but this often becomes the only hammer. And though those two players made a heroic effort to bring Sunday’s game out of the ashes, a more advanced patient build will give Pugh and Smith some breathing room.
Given this pool of creative American players available — Pugh, Smith, Lavelle, Horan, Emily Fox, Sofia Huerta, and Naomi Girma, to name a few — how could the United States not run the game more? This is the next level this American team needs to reach. and maybe, ProbablySunday’s comeback win will give this group the confidence and bravado to do just that.
“That was huge.” Emotions were from every American player after Sunday’s win. It is understood. Not just from a historical (or, fortunately, non-historical) standpoint, but in the sense that this American team now knows, with their backs and their mission to fire, they have the mentality and ability to Find a solutionEven against the best in the world.
This, my friends, is gold. I hope she shines like this in July 2023 at the Women’s World Cup. Meanwhile, this American team knows better than anyone: There’s still a lot of improvement needed if they’re going to make this gold glow. Eight more months, folks. Inhale, exhale, repeat.